Perfumery: the art and science of smell

What, exactly, is fragrance? How might we disscuss and theorize the sense of smell? Luca Turin and Saskia Wilson-Brown confront these surpringly thorny questions and argue that fragrance is an autonomous art which must be dealt with on its own terms, a message in a bottle. As Igor Stravinsky said of music, fragrance may be "by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all". Wilson-Brown’s fragrance awards have shown that there is the possibility for a blind consensus as to what makes a fragrance good or bad. Turin, in his research and writing, has been trying to figure out what that elusive thing may be.

Luca Turin


Luca Turin was born in Beirut to Italian Argentinian parents. He studied in France and  the UK (Physiology and Biophysics PhD, 1978 University College London) and wrote the first critical guide to perfumes in French in 1992 and a much larger one in  English in 2008 with co-author Tania Sanchez. Turin devised a novel, quantum theory of  how smell works in 1996 and has been working on it ever since. He worked as staff  Scientist with the French CNRS, and as lecturer at UCL. Turin also designed novel aromachemicals for a US molecule discovery company.  He is author of a popular  science book and a collection of essays and lives in Athens, Greece and where he works  at Alexander Fleming Institute as Stavros Niarchos Foundation Researcher.

Saskia Wilson-Brown


Saskia Wilson-Brown  co-directed the Silver Lake Film Festival and ran international filmmaker outreach at Al Gore’s Current TV while producing initiatives and media around new models in filmmaking or the arts. In 2012, her interest in transmedia practices led her to create The Institute for Art and Olfaction, a non-profit devoted to experimentation with scent. Through the IAO, she has launched partnerships with institutions such as Goethe Institut, Getty Institute, Danish Film Institute, National Media Museum UK, Hammer Museum, Wallace Collection, and many more. She launched the Art and Olfaction Awards in 2013, an international awards mechanism for independent and experimental perfumers.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - 7:30pm
Vanstone Lecture Hall, St. Jerome's University Academic Centre 
Sponsored by: 

St. Jerome's University
University of Waterloo, Faculty of Arts
University of Waterloo, Faculty of Mathematics
University of Waterloo, Faculty of Science
Fields Institute